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Zimbabwe: NGO report alleges illicit financial flows by Bikita Minerals; Bikita Minerals responds

TrustAfrica's report, "Investigating Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe's Lithium Mining Sector", raises allegations of Bikita Minerals depriving Zimbabwe of revenue by exporting undeclared lithium to Asia and Europe. We invited the company to respond; response provided below.

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19 August 2019

Investigating Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe's Lithium Mining Sector

Author: Farai Maguwu, TrustAfrica

Bikita Minerals, a subsidiary of Africa Resources (Pvt) Ltd, boasts of a world class lithium pegmatite resource and was once the largest producer of petalite and lepidolite in the world. However lithium is not listed among the products exported by Bikita Minerals, raising a strong possibility that the high value mineral is being exported illicitly as petalite... The reluctance of Bikita Minerals to venture into value addition and beneficiation vis-a-vis the Zimbabwe government's thrust on beneficiation... points to some underhand deals between the company and its clients who are deriving extreme financial benefits from the unprocessed products from Bikita Minerals... [T]here is a possibility Bikita Minerals is seriously under-invoicing its exports in addition to failure to declare its high grade lithium to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), thereby prejudicing Zimbabwe of revenue which can run into tens of millions of dollars annually...The Zimbabwe government ought to take a firm stand against illicit financial flows if domestic resource mobilization is to yield results. Tough punitive measures must be put in place to deal with any individuals and businesses found to be undermining the economic interests of the country through failure to fully declare the exact value of their mining export.

Read the full post here

Company response
18 August 2019

Bikita Mineral's response

...The 'Investigating Illicit Financial Flows in Zimbabwe’s Lithium Mining Sector' report presents several serious mistakes and inaccuracies which appear to suggest and/or show insufficient knowledge of the facts and a complete lack of understanding of both lithium mining and the lithium market... Bikita has spent a considerable amount of time and effort with the role-players within Zimbabwe to try and educate them as to the specific mineral (petalite) that Bikita mines and exports, which is NOT the same mineral (spodumene) that is used in the manufacture of batteries... 

Two attached documents that we use widely will adequately cover this:

  1. Bikita Minerals Press Statement (circulated to 23 journalists from all the major Zimbabwe publications during a  mine visit in 2018)

  2. A presentation ‘Petalite in the lithium market (April 2019)’

...also attached [are multiple] supporting documents for our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Download the full document here